FATHER John Duffell, above, would certainly have had a black mark placed against him when, in 2011, he told an aspiring young priest to lie about his sexuality.
It happened at a Catholic conference on sexuality held at Fordham University, New York. Duffel told delegates that “the church is perhaps the only way of affecting change in the world”, but added: “The church is not perfect.”
To an audience member who asked, in writing, how he should deal with the feeling that he is “broken” after being told he cannot enter the priesthood because he is gay, Duffell answered:
You’re not broken, the system is broken, and therefore you deal with it as a broken system; you lie.
Then the priest, a friend of pop star Lady Gaga, attended an LGBT fundraiser in his church hall in 2017. His parish’s Gay Fellowship partnered with the Born This Way Foundation, an LGBT-rights group founded by Lady Gaga, to hold a dance at the Blessed Sacrament Church.
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, writing for LifeSiteNews, exploded:
Under the leadership of Cardinal Dolan, the Archdiocese of New York has become ever more involved with homosexual activism that openly contradicts Catholic doctrine on human sexuality and even celebrates behavior that the Church condemns as deeply sinful and ‘intrinsically disordered.’
Well, as the saying goes, revenge is a dish best eaten cold, and Duffell has been indefinitely suspended from ministry after a canonical penal process found him guilty of serial sexual misconduct.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote in a July 1 letter to parishioners of New York’s Blessed Sacrament Parish where Duffell served:
I write to share some unpleasant and somber news concerning Father John Duffell, your just retired parish administrator. Father Duffell has been directed not to publicly exercise his priestly ministry due to an allegation from the past that he abused his position of authority in a violation of his promise of celibacy.
The allegation was made first to the District Attorney, and then brought to our attention. This allegation involves an adult; it does not involve a minor. It is important that the archdiocese take such allegations seriously.
A source close to the priest said that the allegation involved serial misconduct over a period of years.
After the 2002 passage of US Church norms designed to address clergy sexual abuse – most especially the “Dallas Charter” – Duffell was among the most outspoken clerical critics of the Church’s policy, which according to Church Militant, had “fatal weaknesses”. One of the Charter’s “grievious flaws” was fact that it offered people above the age of 18 no protection from priestly sexual predation.
The priest was a co-founder of Voices of the Ordained, a group of New York-area priests who raised concerns about the Charter. Duffell said in 2002:
Ordained ministers of the gospel are a group very much at risk at the moment. Given the norms approved in Dallas, anyone can make any kind of accusation against us and we’re dead meat.
Dolan noted that retired auxiliary Bishop Gerald Walsh would serve as the parish administrator until a new pastor could be appointed.